Youth First Kenya

Youth First Kenya (YFK) is a partnership project bringing together three like-minded public benefit organizations; SOWED Kenya, BasicNeeds BasicRights-Kenya and Corstone, USA. The three-year project will be implemented in Kajiado and Tharaka Nithi Counties among boys and girls transitioning from primary to secondary school.


Despite improved primary school access and quality in Kenya, secondary school access, quality, and primary to secondary transition still represent major challenges. Marginalized populations, including girls, rural poor, and nomadic communities, remain chronically under-served.

About Youth First Model

YF, is one of the first evidence-based resilience programs in any developing country. Research shows that programs that build resilience, or the ability to bounce back from challenges, adversity and conflict, can improve student well-being thereby helping them to overcome a myriad of challenges resulting in improved transition from primary to secondary school.

This model was piloted in India and has been conducted since 2009 among more than 50,000 marginalized adolescents. Youth First (model) is a teacher-facilitated, school-based resilience and adolescent health intervention, held weekly in 30-hour long group sessions (12-15 students/group). Youth First draws from positive psychology, social-emotional learning, and restorative practices, and has been shown through randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to build assets, knowledge and skills to advance education and support wellbeing in multiple life domains.

Youth First Kenya

This project will adapt and test Youth First in rural government schools for students transitioning from primary to secondary schools in Kajiado and Tharaka Nithi. YFK a teacher-facilitated program proven to improve the mental, emotional, and physical health and educational achievement of at-risk adolescent youth. SOWED Kenya is currently piloting the project in Kajiado, County. This project is supported by a consortium of donors from USA and receives technical support from Corstone Foundation India. Together with our partners, we trained eight teachers from four schools, which are Esonorua, Olooltepes, Olmotiany and Noompopong Primary Schools, and supported them in implementing the project amongst 107 pupils, including the facilitation of sessions on: Character Strengths, Goal Setting, Benefit Finding, Managing Difficult Emotions, Assertive Communication, Opposing Violence, Promoting Rights and Gender Constraints and Gender Based Violence amongst others.

Project Phases

We begin with curriculum adaptations to the Kenyan setting (Phase I – June 2017 – March 2018): conduct a feasibility/acceptability pilot (Phase II – March 2018 – December 2018); and finally, a pre-post assessment trial with matched controls (Phase III – January 2019 – June 2020).